OBSERVATIONS On the Governor’s Race E VEN THOUGH 30-second TV attack ads and the negative atmospherics they create are destroying analysis in American politics, let’s take an analytical look at the governor’s race as the campaign rounds into its closing weeks. That done, 1 shall have a few suggestions about what Ann Richards might do to come from behind and win. As of last fall, according to the Texas Poll, 32 percent of Texans said they are Democrats and 31 percent said they are Republicans; a third said they are independents. However, last March about 1,450,000 people voted in the Democratic primary, while about 850,000 voted in the Republican one. The GOP primary turnout was 300,000 higher than the previous record total, but two out of three Texans who voted last spring preferred to choose among the Democratic candidates. Texas is a two-party state in which the Democratic candidates still should have some advantage from the residual preference for them among the voters. Despite a Democratic primary that was aptly described as a demolition derby, Richards prevailed in the runoff over Attorney General Jim Mattox seven to two in Travis County, eleven to five in Tarrant County, two to one in Harris County, five to three in Bexar County, and three to two in Dallas County. Among the six top urban counties, Richards lost only El Paso to Mattox, three to two. These figures tell us that, as of the primary half a year ago, Richards had strong residual support in the major cities among the two-thirds of the voters who participated in the Democratic primary. In the Texas Poll taken between August 4 and August 19, Clayton Williams led Richards 47 percent to 37 percent with 16 percent undecided, the margin of error 4 percent. Those figures described a contest in which one candidate was ahead but plausir bly either could win. About a month later, in the poll taken between September 5 and 12, Williams had gained only one point, to 48 percent, but Richards, at 33 percent had lost four voters out of a hundred, who had mainly shifted to undecided, a category which rose three points to 19 percent; here the margin of error was 3 percent. Williams led among men 58 to 28 percent, but Richards was much stronger with women, 40 percent for her to 42 percent for him. This astounding gender gap might signify a situation in which some women, when asked how they will vote, are lying to avoid antagonizing the men they are close to. With about two months to go as of the September poll, Richards still could win, but had lost ground in the late summer, probably by putting on Michael Dukakis’s helmet and shooting doves from a tank. Many progressives have been saying from the start that Richards does not stand for enough specific policies and programs of the progressive kind. Williams has been saying lately that he will be a compassionate governor. We have reached the point in the campaign when, against these backdrops, we can fairly compare what each candidate has said on those substantive issues which he or she has chosen to discuss. ON ABORTION, Richards favors “a woman’s right to choose and keeping government out of people’s private lives.” The state Democratic platform, which she of course controlled on this issue, says: “The Democratic Party trusts the women of Texas to make their own decisions about such personal matters as whether or not to have an abortion. No government, no politician, no bureaucrat should interfere in such private decisions. We support full reproductive rights and full access to choice and family planning services and information for all citizens.” Williams opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother. The state Republican party platform says: “Pro-life. The Republican Party of Texas believes that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed upon except when the mother’s physical life is in danger … We affirm our support for a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protection applies to unborn children.” The Texas Republicans officially oppose any public funding for any abortion activities. Richards proposes to establish an environmental clearinghouse in the governor’s office, which might lead to the creation of a central environmental agency. If oil companies refuse to contribute voluntarily to emergency clean-ups of oil spills, she says, the state should tax the oil industry to pay for such cleanups. She wants a statewide coastal management resource plan and a rapid response team to fight oil spills, with the governor made the official responsible for the state’s response. As governor, she says, she would bring into being a team of laWyers, scientists, and technical experts to investigate illegal dumping, toxic discharges, and pollution threats to water resources. Businesses should be granted tax credits, she says, in exchange for, buying recycled mate rials and for recycling their own wastes. Williams following along after Richards on oil spills, advocates spending $25 million in general revenues to equip nine Texas ports with oil-spill-fighting equipment and fining polluters twice the cost of clean-ups. Richards’ commitment to the environment when there is a conflicting claim from bu&iness is questioned because of her business and political associations with Austin developer Gary Bradley, one of whose project’s, environmentalists bharge, could jeopardize the Edwards aquifer. Williams dried up Comanche Springs to water his own land, and his businesses have been accused ‘Of polluting. Richards wants to raise teachers’ salaries to “a professional wage” and to improve provisions for their health care, and she speaks of a secure teachers’ retirement system that “is not treated as a source of available funds when the state runs low.” Williams’ position is implicit: opposing any new taxes, he Ottposes any fundamental Upward hike in teachers’ pay. Pro forma he has an education program giving students and parents the freedom to choose any state-accredited school they want but it is not real. On the scandal of the corrupted state legislature, which the candidates were all but required to face because of a questionnaire sent to them by the Dallas Morning News, Richards is tough on corruption and Williams is soft on corruption. Richards favors, and Williams opposes, the creation of an ethics commission with subpoena powers; Richards favors, ”and Williams opposes, requiring lobbyists to detail all expenditures of more than $100 on lawmakers and requiring legislators to report receiving any such entertainment, meals, or refreshmentS; both candidates favor limits on contributiOns from political action committees, but Richards favors, and Williams opposes \(except on campaign contributions by individuals; Richards favors, and Williams OppOses \(as well he might, having loaned his own camhow much candidates can lend their own campaigns, to be repaid by later campaign contributionS. Richards also proposes that all statewide candidates and officeholders be required to releases their tax returns and the “extremely wealthy” candidates be required to put their holdings in blind trusts. She haS released tier tax returns back to 1982; he has refused to release any of his, and he says that if he is elected he will not put his holdings in a blind THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7 11111111111101
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